As this issue of TA goes to press Tanzania is abuzz with rumours and leaks to the media to the effect that there might be a settlement in the long standing deadlock between the CCM government and the CUF opposition party in Zanzibar. This would be very good news indeed for Tanzania’s image abroad if it were to happen as Zanzibar has become something of an embarrassment to the Union government.
The special envoy of Commonwealth Secretary General Chief Anyaoku, Dr Moses Anafu, has been working with the parties since early June and it was expected that the Secretary General would himself go to Tanzania on August 12 to sign protocols which would bring an end to the conflict. However, as this issue went to press Chief Anyaoku told ‘Tanzanian Affairs’ that his visit was being postponed but he hoped to go towards the end of August.
According to the Dar es Salaam ‘Daily Mail’ and Britain’s ‘Africa Analysis’, the proposed agreement would mean a return to parliament by the opposition CUF MP’s who have been boycotting it since the elections in 1995; there would be constitutional changes especially in the conduct of elections and compensation would be paid to those CUF supporters who have had their houses demolished. The agreement could also mean that CCM would no longer have a two thirds majority in the Zanzibar parliament and would not therefore be able to change the constitution to allow President Amour to stand for a third term in office. But, after the press revealed details of the proposed settlement, there were immediate reactions from the CCM leadership. Never, said Zanzibar Chief Minister Mohammed Billal, would the government surrender to the CUF and the next day President Amour said that no agreement had been reached – he would continue to rule Zanzibar until 2000 when the next elections would be held. But later he was reported (in the Dar es Salaam ‘Guardian’) to have said that, if a settlement were to come about, it would show that the CCM had won. “If they see me as a catalyst for settlement that would be very good” he said.
Meanwhile the CUF party is having internal difficulties. An indication of this was the recent action taken by the party against Ms Naila Majid Jiddawi MP (for Women) and ‘shadow’ Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Union Parliament who was removed from her ‘shadow ‘post; attempts were made to force her out of the party and hence out of parliament. According to the ‘Daily Mail’ she was alleged by CUF leaders to be leaking CUF secrets to CCM and to be a close friend of President Amour’s wife. Ms Jiddawi, who is a businesswoman, then appealed to the High Court to fight her expulsion. She had met the Zanzibar President’s wife only once, she said. She admitted that she was opposing the party’s policy of boycotting the Zanzibar House of Representatives. Following the success of the appeal she returned to parliament in Dodoma and, according to the ‘Daily News’ received a tumultuous welcome from all sides of the House.
The ‘Daily News’ has also reported a top CUF official as having admitted that there has been a steady decline in the party’s strength. He said that the injustices being committed against CUF members and supporters made the days of colonial rule look better. He said that the party leadership had gone to great lengths to try and ensure that justice was done in Zanzibar through local and international initiatives.
At the Mikunguni by-election on June 21 (following the death of the previous MP on April 12) the CCM candidate, irrigation expert Dr. Suleiman Omar, won by 4,926 votes (92%) compared with 409 for CUF candidate Badru Vuaia. This compared with 4,158 for CCM and 576 votes for CUF in the 1995 general election. There was again a very heavy turnout. Almost 99% of registered electors voted. Eight parties contested the byelection.
On April 29 the Zanzibar House of Representatives suspended all CUF MP’s (excluding the five in detention under the treason trial) from the session then underway, for contravening House regulations. All CCM MP’s supported the motion but CUF MP’s ‘contemptuously clapped their hands’ according to the ‘Daily News’. They had been excluded in October (for five days), again in February for 20 days and again on June 15 for boycotting the budget sessions. The CUF MP’s lose fuel, electricity and constituency allowances when they are suspended.
On May 1 CCM’s Maudline Castico described allegations of human rights abuses in Zanzibar made by the newly elected MP, Juma Duni, to the UN Human Rights session in Geneva as ‘pure junk’. Visitors from all walks of life came to Zanzibar without any hindrance. What human rights violations did they see, she asked.
The former candidate of the opposition CUF party for the post of Vice-President of Tanzania and victor in the by-election in October 1997 for the Mkunazini seat in the Zanzibar House of Assembly (TA No 59) Mr Juma Duni Haji was arrested on May 11 and was later added to the group of 17 CUF leaders being held for treason. His house was searched thoroughly and, according to the ‘Guardian’, ‘it was presumed that the arrest was in connection with the alleged importation of army uniforms’.
Little progress has been made in bringing the case, which began in December 1997, to trial. The preliminary enquiry was till under way as this issue of TA went to press. In May, defence counsel had again asked the court to set a deadline for the prosecution to complete collecting evidence. The prosecuting officer was quoted in the ‘Daily News’ as saying that efforts were underway to net additional suspects to strengthen the evidence but he refused to reveal the whereabouts of these suspects because this would tamper with efforts to collect the evidence. When the 18 suspects were brought to court, for what is becoming one of their routine visits (on June 13) three were missing because of ill health. The Magistrate instructed the Commissioner of Prisons to submit a report on the health of the three before he postponed a bail application from the accused until June 25. On that day the application was turned down because the magistrate said that the court had no jurisdiction to grant bail. He said the applicants should appeal to the High Court if they were not satisfied with his decision. The case was then adjourned until July 8 to enable the prosecution to ‘solidify’ its evidence. On July 20 the case was adjourned again until August 4 and it was stated that the Attorney General was studying the file to decide whether to begin the trial proper in the absence of other suspects alleged to be ringleaders.
Amnesty International issued a statement on July 8 when it heard that the Vice-Chairman of CUF, Seif Sharif Hamad, had been ordered to report to the police (he was questioned for one hour) and later stated that it considered the 18 suspects as prisoners of conscience imprisoned solely on account of their non-violent opinions and political activities. Amnesty is calling on the Zanzibar government to release them.
In a move which seems to be have been designed to boost Zanzibar’s judiciary and its international image, President Amour appointed (on May 23) seven Nigerian nationals. They are filling the posts of Deputy Chief Justice, three High Court Judge posts and three commissioners of the Zanzibar Law Review Commission. According to the Dar es Salaam, ‘Guardian’, they are to handle the treason trial if and when the trial proper starts.